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Staying Out of Trouble 2017: Hot Topics in Ethics and Avoiding Professional Discipline

Speaker(s): Deborah A. Scalise, James Q. Walker, Raymond Vallejo, Richard M. Maltz, Ronald C. Minkoff, Sarah D. McShea
Recorded on: Dec. 21, 2017
PLI Program #: 180188

Raymond Vallejo is a Deputy Chief Counsel with the Departmental Disciplinary Committee of the Appellate Division, First Judicial Department. In the 20 years he has worked for the Committee, he has prosecuted numerous complex disciplinary matters ranging from the conversion of escrow funds from attorney trust accounts to the sexual abuse of clients by their attorneys. The scope of the Committee's investigations encompasses both professional and private conduct as well as the impact of state and federal criminal convictions on an attorney's ability to practice law. Mr. Vallejo has litigated these cases before court-appointed Referees and has engaged in oral argument before Hearing Panels in connection with these matters.

As a Deputy Chief Counsel, Mr. Vallejo is responsible for the direct supervision and training of Staff Attorneys at the Committee. He also evaluates complaints against attorneys and referrals to the Committee from judges, clients, other attorneys and initiates sua sponte investigations of attorney misconduct. Mr. Vallejo is presently an Officer of the New York State Association of Disciplinary Attorneys.

Prior to joining the Disciplinary Committee, Mr. Vallejo was an Assistant District Attorney with the Bronx District Attorney's Office for five years where, in addition to prosecuting felony jury and bench trials, he worked in the Appeals Bureau where he engaged in oral arguments in criminal cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; the New York State Court of Appeals in Albany;  the Appellate Division, First Department; the Appellate Term, First Department; and litigated in the Southern District of New York.  
Mr. Vallejo has also served as an Arbitrator in Small Claims Court in New York County and has lectured, among other places, at the New York County Lawyer's Association's Bridge the Gap Program for newly admitted attorneys. A native New Yorker, Raymond is a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science; received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Iona College in New Rochelle, New York; and his law degree from the City University of New York School of Law in 1987.

Ronald C. Minkoff is a partner in the Litigation Group and Head of the Professional Responsibility Group. Mr. Minkoff is one of New York State’s leading practitioners in the field of attorney ethics and professional responsibility, representing attorneys in a wide variety of matters including law firm partnership disputes, attorney discipline cases, legal fee disputes and legal malpractice and professional liability cases on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants. He also provides ethics opinions and advice to a wide variety of law firm clients.  In addition, he also serves as an expert witness in legal malpractice lawsuits and attorneys’ fees disputes.

Mr. Minkoff is a member of several Bar Ethics Committees, including the Committee on Standards of Attorney Conduct (COSAC) and the Committee on Professional Discipline of the New York State Bar Association. He is also the Chair of the Committee on Professionalism and Professional Discipline of the New York County Lawyers’ Association, a former member of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Professionalism, and a past President of the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers. He has written extensively for the New York Professional Responsibility Report, The Professional Lawyer, The New York Law Journal, and other publications and served as the co-Managing editor of the New York Legal Ethics Reporter. Mr. Minkoff has served as an Adjunct Professor of Professional Responsibility at Columbia University School of Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, New York University School of Law, Fordham Law School, and Brooklyn Law School. He is a frequent lecturer on the law of lawyering.

In addition, Mr. Minkoff represents businesses and individual professionals and executives in a wide variety of commercial litigation, including business break-ups, securities lawsuits, and domestic and international trade disputes. He represents several law firm partners and law firms in partnership disputes, lateral transitions and law-firm dissolutions. And he represents an internationally known petrochemist in an oil and gas venture dispute. Mr. Minkoff is on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the New York County Lawyers’ Association.

Mr. Minkoff was named Best Lawyers’ 2011 New York Ethics and Professional Responsibility Lawyer of the Year. He has also been recognized by Best Lawyers for many years for his work in Commercial Litigation, Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Legal Malpractice, and Regulatory Enforcement matters. He has been named a New York-area “Super Lawyer” for Professional Liability: Defense Work and Business Litigation by Super Lawyers magazine for nine consecutive years.

Mr. Minkoff is a graduate of Columbia Law School (JD, 1980). He is admitted to practice in New York.

Sarah Diane McShea has practiced in the professional responsibility field since 1980.  Her solo law practice is devoted to advising lawyers and law firms on professional responsibility matters. She represents lawyers in disciplinary proceedings; litigates sanctions and disqualification issues; provides ethics and professional advice to lawyers, law firms, government agencies and in-house law departments; represents bar applicants; and serves as an expert witness on professional responsibility issues. McShea is a member of the Editorial Board of the ABA/BNA Lawyers' Manual on Professional Conduct. She is a member of the New York State Bar Association's Committee on Standards of Attorney Conduct and serves on several other bar association professional ethics committees as well. McShea is a contributing editor to The New York Rules of Professional Conduct (Oxford, 2011); a founding member and Past President of the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL) and a Trustee of the New York State Lawyer Assistance Trust. She also teaches professional responsibility as an adjunct professor at Fordham University School of Law and previously was an adjunct at Columbia University School of Law and Brooklyn Law School. She is a former Deputy Chief Counsel to the Departmental Disciplinary Committee in the First Department and former Bureau Chief (Public Corruption) in the Kings County District Attorney's Office. She graduated from Yale College and Boston University School of Law.

James Walker concentrates in government investigations and enforcement proceedings, complex commercial litigation, professional liability and legal ethics.  Mr. Walker represents companies and senior executives in investigations of potential violations of the securities laws, and law firms and lawyers in litigations and proceedings involving investigations of criminal, regulatory and/or professional misconduct claims.  Mr. Walker is the Chair of the New York County Lawyer’s Association Professional Ethics Committee.  He has served on the New York City Bar’s Professional Discipline, Professional and Judicial Ethics, Professional Responsibility, and Securities Regulation Committees, and on the New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics, where he has been a member since 1996.  Mr. Walker frequently lecturers on legal ethics, internal investigations and corporate governance, and has published articles addressing on attorney-client privilege, professional ethics, and issues arising under the securities laws.  Mr. Walker also serves as General Counsel to Richards Kibbe & Orbe LLP.

Richard M. Maltz is counsel to the Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility Group of Frankfurt, Kurnit, Klein & Selz, P.C.  With more than 23 years of experience in the professional responsibility field, he is one of New York State’s leading practitioners in the field of legal ethics and professional responsibility, representing law graduates seeking admission, lawyers and law firms in a wide variety of disciplinary matters, litigation, fee disputes and law firm disputes.  He was recently recognized by Best Lawyers in America as one of the top attorneys in his field.  He has also been named as a Super Lawyer as noted in the New York Times Magazine.

Mr. Maltz served two years as First Deputy Chief Counsel (1998-2000) and nine years as Deputy Chief Counsel (1989-1998) for the Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the Appellate Division, First Judicial Department.  Prior to joining the Committee, Mr. Maltz handled both criminal and civil litigation.

Currently, Mr. Maltz is a member of the New York State Bar Committee on Professional Discipline, the New York City Bar Professional and Judicial Ethics Committee and Co-Chair of the New York County Lawyers’ Ethics Committee.  He was creator and Chair of the New York State Trial Lawyer’s Ethics Committee. 

Mr. Maltz is a former Chair of the Professional Responsibility Committee of the New York City Bar (2002-2005) and former Chair and then Co-Chair of the Ethics Committee of the Westchester County Bar Association.  He is a member of the New York County Lawyers’ Ethics Institute and was appointed to the New York State Bar Advertising Task Force.  He was also former Chair of the Briarcliff Manor Ethics Board, as well as a former Referee for the Judicial Conduct Commission.

Mr. Maltz has been certified to teach an ethics CLE course by the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board and he lectures often on disciplinary and ethical issues for New York State, City, and County Bar associations and for private law firms. He has taught professional responsibility at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, and has published articles in the New York Law Journal, New York State Bar Journal, and Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics. He has also acted as an ethics expert.

Deborah A. Scalise is a partner in the firm SCALISE & HAMILTON LLP in Scarsdale, New York which focuses its practice on the representation of professionals (primarily lawyers and judges) in professional responsibility and ethics matters and white-collar criminal matters.  Since 2002, Ms. Scalise has appeared before the Character and Fitness Committees, the New York State and Federal Grievance Committees and the Judicial Conduct Commission. 

Prior to 2002, Ms. Scalise was Deputy Assistant Attorney General in Charge of Public Advocacy for the Westchester Region for the NY Attorney General’s Office and handled cases involving consumer frauds, civil rights and public integrity matters. Before that, she was Deputy Chief Counsel to the Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the First Judicial Department where she investigated and litigated complex disciplinary matters. She began her career as an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County, where she handled economic crimes and arson cases.  Ms. Scalise earned a Juris Doctor from Brooklyn Law School, a Bachelor of Arts Degree from John Jay College, CUNY and a Master of Arts Degree in Forensic Psychology from the John Jay College Graduate School, CUNY. 

In 2016, Ms. Scalise was appointed to the NYS Office of Court Administration CLE Board by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore. She also testified before the 2015 OCA State Commission on Professional Discipline with regard to attorney mental health issues. Her authored materials, entitled “Ethically Dealing with Clients, Witnesses and Attorneys with Diminished Capacity,” were annexed to the Commission’s Report that issued recommendations as to the unification of the New York State disciplinary process. 

Ms. Scalise is a contributing author in “The Dementia Crisis” written by Robert Abrams, Esq., Editor, NYS Bar Association Journal, January 2017. She contributed a chapter to Oxford University Press’s The New York Rules of Professional Conduct: Opinions, Commentary, and Case Law, a treatise discussing ethical conduct, and frequently contributes articles related to professional responsibility and ethics issues for among others, the NYSBA Journal and State Bar News; the WBASNY and WWBA Newsletters; the WCBA Bar Journal; and the NYSTLA Bill of Particulars. 

In 2015 Ms. Scalise and her partner, Sarah Jo Hamilton were honored by NYCBA Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP) for their continued support and contributions to LAP. In 2014, the firm received the WWBA’s Family Friendly Award.  In 2012, Ms. Scalise received WBASNY’s Marilyn Menge Award and in 2009 she received the Westchester County Above the Bar Pace Setter Award.  She was the subject of a profile in the ABA's Student Lawyer Magazine in its February 2005 issue.